#20 SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale: SweetWater Brewing Company, Atlanta, Georgia
State: The very contradictory state of Georgia, home to OutKast, the Indigo Girls, Chick-fil-A, Michael Stipe, Tyler Perry, the Duke boys, and a bunch of redneck motherfuckers.
Brewery: SweetWater Brewing, the largest in the state and one of the 25 largest in the country. It’s in Atlanta, a tree-canopied city said to be “too busy to hate.”
Beer: SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale, first brewed in 1997. Several of our tasters thought it was a hoppy Pilsner, with the others marking it “IPA?”
Difficulty of obtaining in Oregon: Moderate. It’s available all over the South.
The south is not big on craft beer, but in a city as big as Atlanta, the de facto capital of its region, you find a little bit of everything.
SweetWater—it actually sells more beer than Rogue—rules the roost in those parts. They even have an outpost in the ATL airport. In only 15 years, this stuff has taken over the South. The beer we tried, a pale ale named for a slang term for marijuana, probably wouldn’t find its way onto many taps here, but it’s a revelation to its own people.
Visiting the brewery itself sounds.... awful. From what I can surmise from Yelp reviews, it seems they only open the place up on weekends for something loosely resembling a beer festival with tickets and long lines to pound something called Donkey Punch which may or may not be blue.
“Friday night Happy Hours are a bit of meat market, but in a friendly, southern way. Come with a group, get your beer tickets and pint glass and have at it. You will park your car in South Carolina so bring a pair of shoes you can actually walk in. Chances are you are going to be spending the majority of your time outside in the heat and humidity, so if you are not looking to contribute to the "Dirty South" wear something comfortable...”
“Really good brewary. Definitely a nice brewery also. My only gripe is that coming from California, there were food trucks that come out. Their beers are definitely good. Really well balance lot of beers. The blue was my gf favorite. A blueberry wheat beer.. The 420 is really their best all around beer. Definately come check this place. Definitely plan to get some food either before or after.”
To me, this all sounds unimaginably awful. Like the time I went to a NASCAR race. But, hey, let’s just be happy Atlanta has a popular craft brewery. Hopefully it will somehow lead to the development of a sophisticated and vital beer culture in the state of Georgia.
Stand back and give it a double-wide berth.